Donald Trump was confirmed at the 45th President of the United States at his inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Friday. He delivered an address that he later claimed on Twitter was watched by 31 million television viewers, 11 million more than former President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2013. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a point of refuting the number of media-reported spectators on hand at the U.S. Capital to see Trump sworn in live and listen to his inauguration speech.
Spicer claims that inauguration pictures underestimate the number of people present at the U.S. Capitol on Friday to see and hear the president. The press secretary claimed that Trump’s was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — both in person and around the globe,” as reported by the Toronto Star.
Reports of crowds numbering 250,000 drew criticism from President Trump and his press secretary. Sean Spicer, who held up data showing that Washington, D.C.’s Metro transported 420,000 people on Friday, compared with 317,000 during former President Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration. He later stated that he had been given “incorrect information” with regard to DC Metro ridership and that “we know now, we can tell the (Metro) numbers are different.” The press secretary also offered the opinion that a number of photographs had been framed to intentionally underestimate the “enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.”
“Now that’s not bad, but it’s a lie. We had 250,000 people literally around that little ball we constructed, that was 250,000 people,” Trump was quoted by Global News as saying. “The rest of the 20 block-area all the way back to the Washington Monument was packed. So, we caught them and we caught them in a beauty.”
The counsellor to President Trump, Kellyanne Conway, dubbed Sean Spicer’s accounting of attendees at the Friday inauguration as an example of the use of “alternate facts,” something that the publishers of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, as well as legions of internet users, took exception with.
In addition to claiming that 2017 inauguration photos underestimated the size of crowds, Spicer also claimed that metal detectors and security fences situated farther away from the U.S. Capitol than for previous presidential inaugurations may have hampered some attendees’ progress. White coverings used on the National Mall have also been blamed for causing 2017 inauguration pictures to appear emptier than was the reality.
No official numbers were reported for attendance at the inauguration. The National Park Service manages the National Mall and would be the government organization responsible for keeping a tally. The service “did not put any out,” Sean Spicer argued against media estimates for the number of attendees. The press secretary reiterated that President Trump’s inauguration was the “most-watched in history” and that he hadn’t been presented with any figures putting that claim in disrepute. He cited one network that had 16.9 million viewers of the inauguration address and considered “attendance, viewership, total audience in terms of tablets, phones on television” with the administration’s estimates.
“I’d love to see any information that proves otherwise,” Sean Spicer said of the Trump administration’s claims that the president’s inauguration was the most-watched ever.
The secretary also provided a breakdown of the various sections of the National Mall and estimates for how many people can fit in each area. Some have claimed that a photo showing seemingly thin crowds taken by Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson from the Washington Monument just after noon on Friday was actually taken earlier in the day. That’s an accusation Reuters photo editor Jim Bourg took exception with, insisting the photo was taken just after noon. Some have attempted to downplay the difference in Jackson’s photo and photos taken at Obama’s inauguration of being a result of being taken at different times.
[Featured Image by Rob Carr/Getty Images]